Updated: Sep 8, 2020
This time last year I was preparing to go to Roatan, Honduras to assist with When Love Works couples getaway. After the trip I wrote about a poignant experience while there, but never posted it. Here it is for you to read now. Enjoy!
Standing on the wooden platform with my helmet adjusted just right on my afro, sunglasses on my face as sweat persisted to slide them off, and oversized brown gloves on my hands. I wasn’t sure if the sweat all over my body was because of the July heat or nervousness as I wiped my face, and inhaled deep breathes several times.
I had gotten myself into something that only 13 lines through the forest by myself could get me out of. I’ve always prided myself on being independent. My parents always told me how independent I was even as a baby. They weren’t shocked at all when I moved across the country by myself with no friends or family TWICE to strike out on my own.
It was never a second thought getting up and doing things I wanted to do alone when friends weren’t available. This year more than ever I really began to go overboard with my independent, single woman mindset. Buying myself tickets to shows and events, without even inviting my friends first, and calling it date night. Granted solo date night is needed, but some things are just better with other people to enjoy. Admittedly, I have always enjoyed a certain level of singledom and dating the last few years, but started to find myself with very little space for others in my life.
While actively trying to date I would have my weekly schedule filled with things to do solo or with friends fitting in dates however they could. Most of the time they didn’t fit, and we dissolved quickly. I was trying to establish myself as a woman who didn’t need a man, but wanted one. A woman with a life and not waiting around for anyone.
Until I found myself hanging on a line in the middle of a forest in Roatan, Honduras terrified.
After about a week with five couples, as the only single person, assisting with the When Love Works Couples Getaway, I learned a lot about love, partnership, and relationships. But I was determined to spend time by myself on the trip. I walked the beach a few times in the morning, went to dinner my first night, but found myself with the group most of the time.
Our last day I decided to go ziplining by myself. I was fearless… until I got to the top of the forest and read the waiver. I initialed and signed my life away leaving the company with no liability if anything happened to me. As I stepped into the harness allowing the guide to hook, snap, and pull around my crotch area it started to become real.
I listened keenly through the guides accent, and mesmerizing eyes, as he explained what to do. “Wait, say that again,” making sure I heard him correctly and clearly with each detail. Once on the line there was no turning back. I’m not one to back down from a challenge I set my mind on, but I was scared and felt alone. Hell, I was alone besides the two guys that worked there to ensure I made it all the way down.
Snap, clamp, click I was secured on the line after jumping up crotch first and landing on my tippy toes. The first guide zoomed across to the other side. The one with mesmerizing eyes was behind me as I crossed my legs and allowed the line to support my weight. “Now drop,” he said. I glanced at him, took another deep breath and zoom. I glided across the line with the air in my face terrified I was going too fast.
I used my glove as instructed to slow down, and accidentally stopped myself in the middle of my destination and starting point. I was stuck. This excursion was resembling a metaphor of my life. Taking many leaps towards my dreams, but stopping abruptly when I didn’t have control, felt unsure, and lacked the support I needed, but didn’t know how to ask for it. My independence hasn’t just hindered my love life, but every aspect if I’m being honest.
The guide in front of me zipped back and pulled me to the end of the line. Reality set in once my feet touched the wooden post- there was no turning back. I had to go through 12 more lines by myself.
Still terrified I tried to calm myself down breathing in and out rapidly. It wasn’t working.
The guide with mesmerizing eyes could see my angst and talked to me, asking me questions to take my mind off what was ahead of me. He reassured me I would be okay, but all I could think about was the waiver. Finally, I repeated the same steps again to get across to the next post. Although, that went much better than the first one, my nerves were bad and in shock at that point. “How many more do I have left? I need a minute,” I said to the guide while trying to talk myself into the third line. “I’m going to go with you,” as he connected himself to my harness. “Just trust me.”
Even though he was a stranger, he was also the expert. My options felt limited. He looked in my eyes and instructed me to cross my legs, sit, and drop down as I did twice before. “I’m right here with you.” As I glided through the trees and swung around no longer holding the line with my hands there he was right behind me. Connected to me. We talked, laughed, and got to know each other line after line through the forest. I embraced his support and enjoyed the experience a lot more with him behind me. Before I knew it we were done. It turned into a metaphor for my support and success. The same support the couples talked about during the trip. I still had to do the work, but he was there behind me making it more enjoyable despite the fear. It was never about needing him as much as just having his presence.
Our connection was not romantic, he was just doing his job. The overall experience was eye-opening to just how tight I was holding on to my ‘I’m single and independent’ flag out of fear. There’s nothing wrong with being single or independent, but I was wearing mine like a badge of honor. Taking care of myself is easy, allowing someone in for the journey takes courage, vulnerability, and work. I’ve been avoiding those things since breaking up with my high school boyfriend, Mark.
After my break-up with Mark, who was clear about wanting to be married and have children, I felt freedom. I recognized how hard it was to be in a relationship, especially with no tools to navigate things. Years after our break-up, I felt satisfied when he called me requesting I come outside my childhood home to see his baby, only to tell him, “I’m not home. I’m in Washington, DC in my dorm room at Howard University.”
“Oh foreal? Let me call you back.” I never heard from him again. I always knew there were certain accomplishments I wanted to achieve as a single woman i.e. have my own apartment, live and travel abroad, and be able to take care of myself. Up until recently, I had a very limited ideology of being an independent woman. Now I understand you can be independent and a team player.
Being in a healthy relationship doesn’t mean giving up who I am, my dreams, or giving up control over my life. It’s just support and encouragement on my journey through purpose and vice versa. Support from my man and others in my life doesn’t take away from my dreams being realized. My trip to Honduras helped me to really see that my blindspot in life is trying to be independent and operating out of fear instead of love.